The Life of Thomas Paine. (of II) Volume I

The Life of Thomas Paine. (of II) Volume I

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Excerpt: ...Satisfaction not being given, Washington and his generals determined on retaliation, and Colonel Hazen, who had prisoners under guard at Lancaster, was directed to have an officer of Captain Huddy's rank chosen by lot to suffer death. Hazen included the officers who had capitulated with Cornwallis, though they were expressly relieved from liability to reprisals (Article 14). The lot fell upon one of these, young Captain Asgill (May 27th). It sufficiently proves the formidable character of the excitement Huddy's death had caused in the army that Washington did not at once send Asgill back. The fact that he was one of the capitulation officers was not known outside the military circle. Of this circumstance Paine seems ignorant when he wrote his letter to Sir Guy Carleton, in which he expresses profound sympathy with Captain Huddy, and warns Carle-ton that by giving sanctuary to the murderer he becomes the real executioner of the innocent youth. Washington was resolved to hang this innocent man, and, distressing as the confession is, no general appears to have warned him of the wrong he was about to commit. But Paine, with well-weighed words, gently withstood the commander, prudently ignoring the legal point, if aware of it. Historians have evaded this ugly business. I am indebted to the family of General Lincoln, then Secretary of War, for the following letter addressed to him by Washington, June 5, 1782: "Col. Hazen's sending me an officer under the capitulation of Yorktown for the purpose of retaliation has distressed me exceedingly. Be so good as to give me your opinion of the propriety of doing this upon Captain Asgill, if we should be driven to it for want of an unconditional prisoner. Presuming that this matter has been a subject of much conversation, pray with your own let me know the opinions of the most sensible of those with whom you have conversed. Congress by their resolve has unanimously approved of my determination to retaliate. more

Product details

  • Paperback
  • 189 x 246 x 7mm | 240g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 123671654X
  • 9781236716545